Fayetteville City Schools is eyeing the addition of another school resource officer (SRO), bringing the total to three – one at each city school.
Last year, one SRO was on campus at Askins School, and the second split his time between Fayetteville High School and Fayetteville Middle School, which are located on the same campus. School board members, however, voiced concern about one officer having to cover two separate buildings.
“I know this board is wanting to have a third SRO in place,” Dr. Janine Wilson, director of city schools, said during last Monday’s school board meeting. “We have applied for a grant with the state. We’re waiting to hear the results.
“We met today with the law enforcement committee of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and we’ve been in contact with Mr. (City Administrator Scott) Collins and (Police Chief) Richard Howell several times about the possibility of getting a third SRO.
“In light of things that happened in the last few years and just as recent as this weekend, all of us have safety issues on our mind,” Wilson said, referring to the mass shootings the previous weekend in Texas and Ohio.
According to discussion, a police officer already on the city force is interested in becoming an SRO, which would give the system a third officer to cover Fayetteville Middle School.
“The biggest issue would be a car for the officer,” Wilson said, noting that the system would pay 60 percent of the cost of a police vehicle for the SRO – amounting to around $30,000 – since that officer would be working for the school system the majority of the year. The officer would work for the City of Fayetteville Police Department the other months outside the school year, so the City of Fayetteville would pay the remainder of the vehicle’s cost, 40 percent, or approximately $20,000.
“I’m so grateful for the partnership,” said Mark Clark, school board member. “The city really is the platinum standard for stepping up and partnering with us on this when other school systems across America don’t have that.
“That’s a small price to pay, in my opinion,” he added.
During the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s work session later in the week, City Finance Director Stacy Rozell explained that the city would fund the SRO’s salary for the two months the officer is not in the schools – June and July – and that cost would be $11,274.
“Our agreement on the current SROs is that we split everything 50/50 year-round ... The third SRO would be an employee of the city, but they would belong to the school system for 10 months while school is in session.”
The $11,274 for the salary expense of the officer for the two months can be accommodated in the city’s current budget, Rozell said.
Just before The Times’ deadline Monday morning, Wilson confirmed that the school system had, in fact, received informal notification that it had received the $70,000 grant, which requires a 25-percent match. Those moneys will be used to help pay for salary and equipment for the SRO.